Wednesday 27 May 2009

Gull again

I better start a new posting because when those posts get too big- blogger starts playing up with the spacings and layout (hence the mess below).
Basically, Andy Tweed has re-raised the issue about 'that Arctic gull' that was causing havoc this winter in and around the London area (was there only one bird??). Seems like investigations (assuming correct identifications have been made by the 'natives') have revealed that some Glaucous-winged Gulls can be relatively fine billed, approaching Herring Gull in bill structure. Perhaps these are small females? Also it comes to light that some Glaucous-winged Gulls can have white primaries- which may be due to variation or perhaps, especially in April, could be due to bleaching. Something else that came up (new for me) is that the grey mantle feathers shown on the Beddington bird are actually quite a good feature of Glaucous-winged Gull.
The post below, shows birds which have been identified as Glaucous-winged Gull which are non-classics in various features which are pertinent to the Beddington Bird.
The jury is still out on this one, I reckon. For me, I simply do not have the knowledge or experience to make a conclusion but am certainly considering the most likely possibilities being a Glaucous-winged Gull hybrid/unsual variant Glaucous-winged Gull/other hybrid throwing up a 'look-alike'- can it go any further?

Gull monster strikes again and again

Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull or hybrid
The Beddington Bird (photo by Garry Messenbird) 21st April 2009

The Beddington Bird, 21st April 2009

The Beddington Bird , 21st April 2009 FOR MORE (TYPICAL) GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS
What d'ya reckon?
Thanks to Johnny Allan and Andy Tweed for researching this.
Previous posting on this bird:
A Glaucous-winged Gull x (American) Herring Gull
These photos and captions in the links etc are obviously all sourced from independent photographers or gull enthusiasts whose opinions on identifications may well differ to others.

Monday 25 May 2009


Been enjoying this Painted Lady migration. They appear at anywhere I have been- after a few minutes one will suddenly dart past heading north. Saw quite a few coming in off the sea at Brighton today- perhaps 15+ an hour. Pretty amazing. Interesting to see some Bee-eaters arriving in the country too- presumably following the advancing front of insect life.

Saturday 23 May 2009


Quite a few young birds about at Beddington, especially Starlings. Carrion Crows, Magpies and a Peregrine were hunting the new fledglings. A couple of Buzzards were hanging around today. A Lesser Whitethroat singing along the path, plenty of Reed Warblers, Whitethroats and 2 singing Sedge Warblers, 2 singing Reed Buntings and good numbers of Greenfinches. Mute Swans have got 2 new cygnets and a few Gadwalls are prospecting.

Wednesday 20 May 2009

How many Icelands?

1. Iceland Gull from 30th January 2008. A cream toned bird with a mainly dark bill. Typical Iceland structure.

2. The latest bird, photo taken on 13th May. A full breasted bird, overall white in tone, limited 'ghost' tail band and complete primaries on left and right wing (have to believe me about the left wing).

3. Same bird as above (plate 2), 13th May.

4. 1st summer Iceland Gull from 18th April. Some grey feathering on the mantle.

5. 1st summer Iceland Gull, 18th April, showing missing primary on left wing and also a fairly obvious tail band.

As of yesterday there was still an Iceland Gull present on the farm- the first May record and still hanging around. Been trying to work out how many different Iceland Gulls I saw on the farm this winter. I am puzzled as to whether a cream bird in December can fade to a white bird in April. I think the April and May bird are different (April bird had a missing primary on left wing, grey mantle feathering and a noticeable tail band)- structurally they appeared different too.

Tuesday 19 May 2009


Interesting weather over the last few days (chart for 18th May). Saw bugger all on Sunday in strong south west winds and rain at Beddington. Also, apart from a few seabirds moving, observation posts on the south coasts have been pretty barren of migrants.
However look how the winds wrapping around this depression (the air moves anti-clockwise) are generating south west winds in the south of the British Isles but south east winds in the north.
That makes all the difference with drift mechanisms still effective in the north.
Sightings from the south (South-west airflow deflecting migrants):
Sightings from the north (South-east airflow creating drift conditions)

Sunday 17 May 2009

Bird Tours at Beddington

I helped out with a LNHS bird tour today led by Johnny. The weather was awful at first but cleared up later. We had 1 Hobby and 2 Egyptian Goose. There was a couple of Lapwing chicks on hundred acre. The punters got totally soaked, covered in mud and saw pretty much bugger all.
There were five new Gadwall on the lake.

Saturday 16 May 2009

Essex 160509

Dunlin, probably schinzii but check out the third bird from the right- larger, longer billed, paler breasted, richer colour scaps- who knows, maybe two races, variation??

Dunlin and Ringed Plover

Male (left) and female Turnstone

Grey Plovers and Bar-tailed Godwit

Dunlin and Ringed Plover
Started off at Vange- nothing in the way of migrants. There was a Greenshank and a male Garganey on Vange Wick. Breeding Corn Buntings, Oystercatcher and Lapwing there. Checked out Bower's- breeding Redshank nearby. Ended up at Canvey Point- 70+ Ringed Plover, 70+ Dunlin, 4 Sanderling, 8 Turnstone, 6 Grey Plover, 20+ Oystercatcher, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 40+ Brent Goose and 4 Common Tern.

Friday 15 May 2009

150509 Beddington

About 10 Common Sandpipers around today, an influx of Reed Warblers (I think-unless they all just decided to start singing today) and one Turtle Dove along the path (a scarce migrant these days over the farm).

Thursday 14 May 2009

Sandwich Tern

This is the 52nd record of Sandwich Tern for Beddington, present for about ten minutes this morning from 0740. Also today 8 Common Sandpiper and 2 Whimbrel (top shot) flew north at 1950. The other guys had a Red Kite.

Wednesday 13 May 2009


Some fantastic visible migration today at Beddington in classic drift conditions. I did nearly twelve hours and between us we logged the following migrants: 1 Black Tern, 18+ Common Tern, 1 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling, 6 Common Sandpiper, 1 Grey Plover, 6 Ringed Plover, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 5 Dunlin, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Cuckoo, 40+ Swallow, 150+ Swift, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 2 Great Black Backed Gull and 35+ Black-headed Gull. Also present were 1 male Shelduck and the 1st sum Iceland Gull.

Interesting to see some of the detail of this regional drift event. As far I could tell- not too much in the way of sea movements except for Dungeness where there were a few Skuas, 2500+ Commic Terns and 81 Black Tern , a huge influx of Black Terns (also some Arctics, Little and Common) was mainly inland and only the east side of the country, good numbers of inland waders (e.g. Sanderling, Dunlin, Turnstone) mirrored the Black Tern influx, there was a major fall of common migrants at Portland but not much at somewhere like Spurn and also a peppering of scarce drift migrants- Red-rumped Swallow, Icterine Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Bluethroat, Short-toed Lark, Golden Oriole, Kentish Plovers etc along the south and east coasts. Black Terns and large flocks of Common heading out of the Thames Estuary were probably birds re-orienting back towards the continent.

Tuesday 12 May 2009

120509 Beddington

Well that weather didn't do anything spectacular yet. The only migrant of note was a Greenshank. The 1st summer Iceland Gull was still present, also one Peregrine, three Common Sandpipers and about 60+ Swift. Three male Gadwalls were present on the lake. About 20+ Black-headed Gulls about- mainly first summers. Still about 1000+ large gulls- mainly Herring with about 10% L.B.B Gull.

Monday 11 May 2009

Interesting weather?

These strong east to northeast winds are fairly atypical in my opinion for this time of year. Perhaps migrants won't be expecting these strong cross winds as they cross the fairly calm Bay of Biscay and Channel. Surprises for migrants equals surprises for birders. As an occluded front moves north and settles over the southeast on Wednesday (see chart) low cloud might also be thrown into the mix. Who knows. Forecasting birds is a dark craft, that only fools practice:-) But I've got my eye on the next few days.


The fifth Spoonbill for Beddington was present today from around lunch time to about 1500. It eventually headed east then came back, climbed to a great height and then decided to fly strongly into the head wind in a northerly direction. The record coincides with a White-winged Black Tern at Staines and a scattering of Black Terns- perhaps indicates new drift migrants.
Also a 1st summer Iceland Gull present- exceptional for May.

Thursday 7 May 2009

Wood Sands at Beddington

I missed another good bird at the farm on Tuesday- this time two Wood Sandpipers which flew off from the lake at around 0700. Interestingly two Wood Sandpipers were seen flying into Brent in North London at 0935. If these were the same birds- that is is a flight speed of 3.5 mph (I could walk faster). The London Wetland Centre, Hyde Park and Regents Park lie in between Beddington and Brent so perhaps they stopped off there for a bit too. Of course they might not be the same birds.

Also it comes to light that the Lea Valley is pretty poor for Wood Sandpipers (only two in 20 years) and a record at the EIDB would warrant a flag flying for Paul Hyland- so perhaps the small number of Wood Sands that pass through London generally follow the Beddington to Brent line. There are only two records from Regents Park (August 1969 and 1977) so obviously not a favoured stop over site on the (hypothetical) flight line.

That small number of London Wood Sands may well be on the decrease as at Beddington (a key site), since the landfill operations, the status has changed from five to six records of up to two to three annually to, for example, no records in 2003 and only one in 2005. On August 14th 1999 there were ten on the farm- since then the sludge beds have decreased in number to make way for landfill.

Information sourced from The Birds of Beddington Farm (unpublished), and London Birders Yahoo Group Thanks to Des Mckenzie, Dave Lambert, John Archer and Paul Hyland.

Sunday 3 May 2009

030509- Beddington

Two Common Sandpipers on the lake must have come in last night. A few more Sedge Warblers today and a new group of Swifts. The brothers and Keith had a Raven- only the fourth record for the Farm. Whinchat has gone.

Breeding positions are being taken swiftly at the moment. Sand Martins are busy nesting in the Sand Martin bank (5-6 pairs), there is a pair and a spare of Gadwall, only a male Shelduck, one to two pairs of Little Grebe, perhaps 10 pairs of Lapwing and Grey Heron juveniles are already out- there is about 30+ Grey Herons on the farm. Must be 60 pairs of Whitethroat on site.

So far this spring at Beddington:
UP AND OKAY: Buzzard, Red Kite, Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, House Martin, Swallow, Lesser Whitethroat,
DOWN or OUT: Willow Warbler, Turtle Dove, Spotted Flycatcher, only one Cuckoo, wader numbers are low.

Saturday 2 May 2009


Well, thanks to a Crested Lark, an Eastern Bonelli's Warbler and a Collared Flycatcher hardly anyone turned up for the Patchwatch.

We managed 65 species the highlights being a male Whinchat, one Common Buzzard and two Common Tern.
Despite a generally quiet birding day there was plenty of action. Factions of the Beddington Birders included the IBB (Independent Beddington Birders) staking out Hangman's Bridge, the ABFBG (Alternative Beddington Farm Bird Group) on the viewing mound and very little showing of the core BFBG (Beddington Farm Bird Group). The IBB were forced to retreat prematurely from the Whinchat (within the perimeter fence from whence the IBB are banned) when the approaching ABFBG was spotted coming back from Portland.
Most significant event of the day was when members of the ABFBG were re-fueling in the local cafe (Andrews) when suddenly the front glass was blown out by a drive by shooting. I had to leave my set breakfast and coffee because it was covered in shards of glass. Luckily nobody was hurt. The IBB have not been totally ruled out as suspects, although the reported three men in a transit did not fit the IBB description- they can't drive . (I WISH THIS WASN'T A TRUE STORY!!)